Is Ethereum Stuck in Bitcoin’s Shadow? Examining ETH’s 2024 Underperformance

Ethereum (ETH), the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, started 2024 strong but has since fallen behind Bitcoin (BTC) in terms of price performance. While ETH has risen roughly 60% year-to-date, BTC boasts a more impressive 87% gain. A recent report by CME Group and Glassnode sheds light on the reasons behind this underperformance.

Deeper Corrections and Lower Risk Appetite

Data shows that ETH has experienced steeper price drops in 2024 compared to BTC. The biggest correction occurred between March and May, with ETH falling 31% against BTC’s 23% decline. This trend reflects a lower risk appetite among investors for ETH in the current market cycle.

Spot Bitcoin ETFs and Rising Competition

The approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs in the US earlier this year is seen as a contributing factor. These exchange-traded funds provide a regulated way for investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin, potentially diverting some investment away from ETH. Additionally, competition from other proof-of-stake blockchains is putting pressure on Ethereum’s dominance.

Ethereum MVRV Ratio Lags Behind Bitcoin

Market Value Realized Value (MVRV) is a metric used to gauge investor profitability. The report highlights that ETH’s MVRV ratio, currently at 1.8, sits significantly lower than the peaks observed in previous bull runs. Conversely, Bitcoin’s MVRV is around 2.5, indicating that BTC investors hold larger unrealized profits. This suggests that investors still value Bitcoin more than Ethereum.

Futures Market Participation Favors Bitcoin

The report also emphasizes the importance of futures markets in digital assets. While ETH’s open interest reached an all-time high in May, its derivatives trading volume remains substantially lower than Bitcoin’s. Higher futures volume suggests greater investor confidence and can lead to price increases.

Hope on the Horizon: Spot Ethereum ETFs

Despite the current underperformance, analysts remain optimistic about Ethereum’s future. The potential launch of spot Ethereum ETFs is seen as a major catalyst. Some believe this could attract significant investment from Wall Street, fueling Web3 growth. Speculation suggests these ETFs could draw in over $15 billion initially, potentially propelling ETH towards $10,000 this cycle.


Ethereum’s price performance in 2024 has been lackluster compared to Bitcoin. Deeper corrections, lower risk appetite, competition, and the early mover advantage of Bitcoin ETFs have all played a role. However, the upcoming spot Ethereum ETFs offer a glimmer of hope. Whether they can propel ETH to new highs and reverse the current trend remains to be seen.